There has been a continuous stream of articles lately about Pinterest, the social networking site that allows users to collect and share images from around the web on their own virtual bulletins boards.
In a recent post on our This Week in Publishing blog, we noted that Pinterest is now the No. 1 social media referral source for CookingLight.com. And a story posted on Mashable.com last week points to Pinterest’s potential to drive online traffic and new subscriptions for an entire category of publications, noting that the site is now the top traffic driver for women’s magazines. (According to data from Google Ad Planner, 80% of Pinterest users are women.)
Given the heavily image-based nature of many of these publications, which tend to feature fashion, recipes, and new products geared toward a female audience, it’s easy to see why women’s magazines are a good fit for Pinterest—and it’s easy to see why publishers are exploring ways to monetize Pinterest-generated traffic and establishing a presence on the site through their own branded pinboards.
In light of the statistics, using Pinterest may seem like a no-brainer for your publication. Before you dive in, however, you’d better keep potential legal ramifications in mind:
Copyright issues for branded pinboards. Boston Business Journal pulled its branded Pinterest pinboard almost immediately after creating it, when it realized that Pinterest’s terms of service grant it the “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license” to use the images that Pinterest participants upload. This policy means that publishers posting images they don’t own the exclusive rights to could get themselves into legal hot water.
Copyright issues when users “pin” your content. While some sites, like MarthaStewart.com, include a “Pin it” button right alongside the Facebook “Like” button on their pages to make it that much easier for readers to share content, other publications are choosing not to let readers add their content to pinboards. In fact, in response to some publishers’ copyright concerns, Pinterest recently made code available that prevents visitors from pinning a site’s content to their personal pinboards.
It’s important to keep in mind that when it comes to social media, potential risks go hand in hand with potential rewards—and to remember that you should always read the fine print.